31.12.1943 367th Fighter Squadron 358th Fighter Group P47D 42-75080 CP-X Lt. Fautt
Operation: Bordeux-Paris – Fighter Escort
Date: 31st December 1943 (Friday)
Unit: No. 367th Fighter Squadron 358th Fighter Group
Type: P47D Thunderbolt
Base: East Anglia
Location: Gravesend road, Shorne England
Pilot: Lt. Robert H. Fautt Jr. 0-25783 USAAF Age 26. Survived - seriously injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
Aircraft run out of fuel
Further information on the crash: Written by Mr. Ray Clarke:
On New Year’s Eve 1943, ‘I was ploughing when I heard a terrific roar of an aeroplane clearly in distress. The plough horses frightened by this broke into a gallop which I was able to bring under control.
I went to look over the hedge and saw that a plane had come down in the field opposite The Crown Garage, now a car sales. I joined one or two other people who were running towards the plane and helped dig a hole so that we could get the pilot out as the cockpit and front of the plane were upside down, although the rear half was the right way up. The pilot was still strapped in so I used my penknife to cut him free, he was taken to Gravesend Hospital where he was found to have a broken arm, broken rib and a nasty gash to his hand.
On its way down the plane had hit several poles which carried the electricity supply to several properties nearby leaving them with no power for any New Year celebrations’. The photograph shows the plane, but it had sustained more damage subsequent to the crash.
I later visited him in hospital and he confirmed he had run out of fuel on his way back to East Anglia and had tried to land on the road, not knowing that the Gravesend airfield was only a couple of miles away.’
Bob was on his 8th combat mission when the crash happened. He sustained serious injuries for which he was initially treated at Gravesend Hospital and later, returned to the United States for further treatment. Bob returned to full flying status in September 1944, and was ordered to Kissimmee Air Base, Florida, for flying duties with a P-47 squadron.
On the 1st August, 1947, during the Air Force Day Show at Vernam Field, Jamaica, flying the only fighter in the show. Bob dived on the field in a P-47 and executed two slow rolls. At the completion of the second roll the aircraft lost speed, stalled, and crashed.
He was killed instantly. His body was returned to his home in Pulaski, Tennessee, for burial which took place on the 18th August 1947.
What else was in the news this period
01st December 1944: Hitler delivered a New Year's message to the German people admitting that 1943 "brought us our heaviest reverses," and that 1944 "will make heavy demands on all Germans. This vast war will approach a crisis this year. We have every confidence that we will survive." Hitler stated that it was no news that the English intended to carry out a landing somewhere, but assured the German people that defences had been prepared that would "surprise our enemies more than their landings would surprise us."
British Deputy Prime Minister Clement Attlee broadcast a New Year's Eve message of his own to the people of the United Kingdom. Attlee declared that the "hour of reckoning has come" for the Nazis but urged the British people not to be complacent, stating: "We do know that in 1944 the war will blaze up into greater intensity than ever before, and that we must be prepared to face heavier casualties. Nineteen-forty-four may be the victory year; it will only be so if we continue to put forward our utmost efforts, and if we allow nothing to divert us from our main purpose." (courtesy Wikipedia)
Lt. Robert H. Fautt. Maplewood Cemetery Pulaski Giles County Tennessee, USA. Bob was born in Bryson, Tennessee, on October 29th,1917. He went to West Point and in the summer of 1942 began his flying training at Randolph Field, Texas, where he was selected Cadet Captain during Basic Training. Received his pilot’s wings in December 1942 and graduated from West Point in January 1943. Assigned to the 367th Fighter Squadron he came with the 358th Fighter Group to England in September of that year.
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered September 2016. With thanks to Jon Vols for grave photo and also to The West Point Association of Graduates for photo of Lt. Robert H. Fautt. Ray Clarke for details on the crash. Other photographs from The Michel Beckers collection.